Page:A book of the west; being an introduction to Devon and Cornwall.djvu/27

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
5
THE DUMNONII

an incessant struggle between the tenant farmers and the lords; the former rose in at least two great revolutions, which shows that they had by no means been exterminated, and whole bodies of them, rather than be crushed into submission and ground down by hard rents, left Ireland, some as mercenaries, others, perhaps, to fall on the coasts of Wales, Devon, and Brittany, and effect settlements there.

When brought into complete subjugation in Ireland, the Gadhelic chiefs planted their duns throughout the country in such a manner as to form chains, by which they could communicate with one another at the least token of a revival of discontent; and they distributed the subject tribes throughout the island in such a manner as to keep them under supervision, and to break up their clans. As Professor Sullivan very truly says, "The Irish tenants of to-day are composed of the descendants of Firbolgs and other British and Belgic races; Milesians, … Gauls, Norwegians, Anglo-Saxons, Anglo-Normans, and English, each successive dominant race having driven part at least of its predecessors in power into the rent-paying and labouring ranks beneath them, or gradually falling into them themselves, to be there absorbed. This is a fact which should be remembered by those who theorise over the qualities of the 'pure Celts,' whoever they may be."[1]

The Dumnonii, whose city or fortress was at Exeter, were an important people. They occupied

  1. Introduction to O'Curry (E.), Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish, 1873, I, xxiv.